I was afraid of messing up. I was afraid of ruining an experiment worth thousands of dollars. But, I started to remind myself that I have not messed up in almost a year so why would I start now? I know what I am doing and so does the other undergraduate student. Together we can accomplish this task and demonstrate what a great asset we both are to this lab and to the future of their research.
My old mentor always knew when a mouse needed to be harvested, but she is no longer here. Now, all we have is the protocol to refer to. The mouse would have to lose 20 percent of its original body weight or score below a 15 on the Murine Coma Behavioral Scoring procedure. But, on a day when the other undergraduate student was not in lab there was a very sick mouse that I had to take care of. It had not lost 20 percent of its weight nor was its score below 15, but I could tell it was suffering. The brain’s inflammation made the skull budge, and it sat in the corner not wanting to move. I had to decide if it should wait until the next day to be harvested with the rest of the mice or if I should harvest it by myself even though the protocol says it did not have to die.
I made the choice that it needed to be put down. An entire 3 hour long procedure for one mouse that may mess up our data results. But, the mouse was more important than that. I knew it was in pain so I knew I had to put it down. I know I made the right choice and the same choice my previous mentor would have made. This is proof that I can succeed in this lab by myself and proof that I am still a leader.
The picture below shows a normal, healthy mouse brain compared to an infected and inflamed mouse brain.